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Leicester City Council

Project Background

Organisational Requirement - what 'Problem' needed a solution? Leicester City Council (LCC) is working with numerous customer databases. One of their major projects is to combine these databases to allow shared access. This is meant to provide better service and create efficient services. This customer data integration project is linked with a smaller project to provide customers access to their data through a web portal in which DMU is involved.

The integration of large amounts of LCC customer data raised questions concerning privacy and data protection. LCC was interested in exploring requirements and possible solutions.

DMU’s Solution – what we did to solve the problem/how we satisfied the client?

DMU’s Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR) is a world-leading research institute in the area of computing and its social and ethical consequences. A core research topic over many years has been that of privacy and data protection. The CCSR was asked to do a study to assess the situation and recommend solutions to LCC.

The CCSR, represented by its director, Prof B. Stahl, reviewed project documentation, met with a number of individuals involved in the LCC project. It quickly became obvious that the proposed project was very likely to raise social, legal and ethical issues. Many of these were related to privacy and data protection concerns.

The CCSR recommended two courses of action: A full Software Development Impact Statement (SoDIS) and a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). PIAs are a mechanism developed and promoted by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. SoDIS is a similar approach developed by the CCSR which goes beyond issues of privacy and undertakes a holistic review of ethical and social concerns of projects, based on the experience of several professional organisations.

Project Outcomes

LCC agreed that it has a legal and political obligation to consult its stakeholders in such substantial projects as the Customer Data Integration one. They decided to institute a PIA to accompany the further development of the project.  

Why DMU? – what were our unique selling points?

DMU’s CCSR is a leading research centre in the area of social and ethical aspects of ICT. It has given guidance and advice to the EU, the UK government and private companies. Its methods and approaches (such as SoDIS mentioned above) allow users to recognise qualitative risks early and to address them proactively.

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